When I was about 14 years old I began to pray for my future husband and to dream of what he would be like. I hoped the ‘one’ would come easily and just like I imagined. Yet, I ended up experiencing loss and heartbreak on the journey.
My idealism turned into realism pretty quickly.
Girl meets boy
I had my first real romantic relationship last year. I met him when I was 18, during a season when God was helping me grow in my own issues with self esteem and confidence. Through reading the Bible and the community around me, God had brought me to a place emotionally and mentally where I knew that my identity was in Jesus. I didn’t anticipate meeting a guy and starting to date, but we did.
We attended the same church and I remember having my first conversation with him for about two hours after one service. I felt so connected, like we could go on forever and talk about everything and anything. I became good friends with his sister and they would invite me all the time to hang out with them. He and I became good friends.
One day after watching a movie we started to open up more about our personal lives and things that we haven’t shared with anyone else. We went deep. Fast.
After that, romantic feelings developed easily in my heart and mind. Eventually our friendship started to progress where we both felt like we were ready to become more than just friends. We started to talk about pursuing a romantic relationship.
A season of discernment
Throughout this time, I was always praying to God for guidance. We spent about 1-2 years praying about whether we should date. I know, it was a long time.
I prayed to God to give me discernment to make the right decision, and if this person was right for me, then to make it clear. I thought this was “the guy”—the one I was supposed to be with forever. He even met all of the “requirements” I had on my list of an ideal husband. However, I learned that often what I desire in a person doesn’t match what I actually need. God knows more than we do, what kind of person is best for us.
I decided to say yes to begin dating because he had every quality I prayed for and I had peace with my decision. But as time went on, I started to have doubts. I took my doubts to God and thought maybe it was fear creeping in making me believe that I wasn’t good enough for this person. Would I fit into his family? Is this what God really wanted for me? With these questions I asked for counsel from my pastor and a friend whom I trusted to help make things clearer.
A few weeks went by and the doubts did not seem to shake off. After talking to my pastor and praying afterwards I immediately had the conviction that I had to let go of this relationship. I needed to surrender all of my dreams, desires, and expectations of dating and relationships to God. This didn’t devalue the person I was dating, or villainize them. It just simply wasn’t the right person for me at that time.
This was such an inner battle because I had waited a long time during our friendship to take it to the next level…just to end it now? I didn’t quite understand fully why God was inviting me to obey by moving in another direction. But I trusted God and knew that he knew best and all I wanted for my life was to do his will above my own.
Taking my brokenness to God
I felt broken after the breakup. In that place, God’s role as a father became more real to me than ever. It even took me several months to fully process the breakup because I was so occupied with school, work, family, and church. Every time questions of “why did I let it go?” or “God, is there really someone better for me out there?” and “What do I do now?” came up, I felt consumed. I responded to the uncertainty of life by turning to truth in Scripture.
I found 1 Peter 5:7 really helpful: Cast all your cares on the Lord, because he cares for you.
If I really trusted God as my father I had to lay out all my fears, questions, and hard thoughts on him because he was the one who had my best interest at heart. I was reminded that my relationship with God had to be first as he comforted me during this heartache. If God is a loving father and created my heart how can I not trust that he knows how to take care of it? Through prayer, reading the Bible, and pressing into healthy friendships I could see God starting to heal my broken heart.
I also needed to learn how to rest in God.
Rest wasn’t escapism, like avoiding people and laying on my couch crying all day. Instead I focused on an “active rest” by picking myself up to do what he has called me to do at the present time.
I needed to both address my emotion, and also not allow it to overwhelm me. When we don’t hold that tension well, it’s easy to miss what God is doing all around us with family, friends, school, work, and most importantly within ourselves.
The good news of the gospel emphasizes that God is always working within us to help us become more like Jesus (Philippians 1:6). As we grow to become more like Christ, we slowly learn how to place more of our faith and trust in God instead of ourselves. God is active to provide, bless, protect, and empower us along the way.
As I walk in this journey the pain doesn’t disappear quickly. It can take a long time for a broken heart to heal. But choosing to grow with God and as a person has been a wise and fruitful investment.
While we wait for the next steps of what God has in store for us, let us wait patiently as he keeps transforming us.